The sign that will eventually hang out front didn't arrive in time to tell customers what the business was that opened yesterday a block from the Rosslyn Metro stop. But judging from the hundreds of people in line, almost everyone knew anyway that Sholl's Cafeteria had finally come from the Distict to Virginia.
"It came out the way we planned it to come out," said owner Eddie Sholl, beaming as he surveyed the line that began forming at 10:30 a.m. yesterday, a half hour before the new cafeteria opened on the ground floor of an office building at 1735 N. Lynn Street.
Throughout the lunch crunch, Sholl was busy in the 210-seat restaurant, checking with Everett Lyles -- for 35 years a Sholl's chef -- running the cash register and helping seat 200 customers an hour in the balloon-strewn restaurant.
"I'm tired, but it feels good to be running a cafeteria again," said Sholl, who has been getting the Arlington spot ready since closing one of the family's cafeterias at K Street and Vermont Avenue in the District Nov. 24.
Although the family still runs Sholl's Colonial Cafeteria at 20th and K streets, they were evicted from the one at McPherson Square when the building was sold to a real estate partnership, which plans to renovate it.
The closing ended 34 years of serving home-cooked meals at reasonable prices to a loyal following of patrons. One of those loyalists, Jessie L. Walton, a retired government worker from the District, was one of the first through the doors of the Rosslyn place yesterday. "I missed them downtown," he said after finishing a spaghetti and meatballs lunch, the regular Thursday special. "Yes, indeed. I'll be here tomorrow, too."
There were newcomers as well as old customers. Arlington County Board member Albert C. Eisenberg, accompanied by Thomas C. Parker and James Snyder from the county's economic development division, were on hand to welcome Sholl's to Arlington. "The District's loss is our gain," Eisenberg said.
Food prices have not gone up since the move to the tonier Rosslyn spot, according to the Sholls, although the look has changed a bit. The lime green banquettes of the McPherson Square restaurant have been replaced with snazzier black ones.
Each table still has the familiar card with "Thanksgiving Prayers" for Catholics, Jews and Protestants.
"This was delicious and it was cheap, too. It was $3.80 for a meal that would cost at least $6 across the street at an eatery," said diner Gary Erck, who had just finished a meal of corned beef and cabbage, broccoli, lettuce and tomato salad and a soft drink. "It's good to have it in the neighborhood."